Staying safe from dogs ::

Many serious and deadly dog attacks are inflicted on children who are visiting or living temporarily at the home of a grandparent, family friend or babysitter where a pit bull or rottweiler is kept.1

Most dangerous situations

  • Leaving an infant or toddler alone with any breed of dog.
  • New or temporary living situations involving children and dangerous dog breeds.
  • Any dog with a history of aggression in a household with children.
  • Approaching a chained dog, especially if it is male and unaltered.
  • Encountering a pack of loose dogs, familiar or unfamiliar to you.
  • Inserting yourself into a dogfight, especially when fighting breeds are involved.
  • Approaching a vehicle with a dog inside (or in the bed of a truck).
  • Walking your leashed dog in front a home that harbors a pit bull.
  • Passing a pit bull on the street with your child or leashed dog.
  • See the Dog Attack Danger Scale, a six point test by Dog Bite Law.

Always remember

  • Do not pet a dog without first letting it see you, even when you know the dog!
  • Do not lean your face close to a dog.
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog. If the dog wants contact with you, it will approach you in a friendly manner.
  • Do not tease a dog, especially a chained or tethered dog.
  • Do not startle a sleeping dog.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Do not bother a dog that is eating.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies.
  • Do not turn your back on a dog and run away.

If you think you may be attacked

Safety tips from the CDC2

  • Stop! Stay still and be calm.
  • Do not panic or make loud noises.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
  • Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Directly staring or facing a dog can appear aggressive (as a challenge) to the dog.
  • Wait for the dog to pass by or slowly back away.
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.
View more safety tips from the CDC »

Body language of a dog indicating a biting risk3

  • Tensed body
  • Stiff tail
  • Drawn back head and/or ears
  • Furrowed brow
  • Yawning
  • Flicking tongue
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away
  • Eyes rolled so whites are visible
  1. U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Breeds of Dogs Involved, Age Groups and Other Factors Over a 13-Year Period (2005 to 2017), DogsBite.org, May 2018 (dogsbite.org).
  2. Preventing Dog Bites, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Accessed November 7, 2018) (cdc.gov)
  3. Bite Prevention Tips for Adults and Children, Virginia Department of Health > Environmental Epidemiology (Accessed: November 8, 2018) (vdh.virginia.gov).